Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

April 24, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,The Bronte Society,The Bronte Society Gazette,Websites — by bronteana @ 10:57 pm

Brontë and Parsonage People

Just a reminder to all Brontëana readers that you should check out the Brontë Parsonage E-Magazine Blog, written by Richard Wilcocks, editor of the Brontë Society Gazette. Among other things, you can come to hear from people at the Parsonage, and others with great stories to tell. The link is also available on the right hand sidebar.

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April 22, 2006

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The Cat by Emily Bronte

Now that exams are over, I can devote more time to blogging and transcribing and all of that good stuff! So, here is the English translation of Le Chat, Emily's Belgian devoir posted back in March. In this piece, Emily defends cats against those who despise them.

Aside from her arguments, there is another reason to like cats. Cats like the Brontës. Well, at least my cat does. She is a maine coon, known for their strange traits and above-average intelligence as well as size. Among other things she will read my books given the chance (unlike a human being, she prefers reading with her nose in my book rather than over my shoulder). Like some other maine coons she eats with her paws as though she had hands. She also sits upright on her tail with her hind legs out like a child, which gives the impression that she at least considers herself to be a little person as she sits thus on the couch.

She watches Brontë adaptations with me. The first time I noticed that she wasn't just spending time with me was when I was watching the musical of Jane Eyre. There's a line where Mr Rochester in Hay Lane describes 'Mr Rochester' as "a thoroughly unpleasant, violent fellow not to be trusted with man nor beast." At this, my cat turned to me and began to paw at my arm until I said: "Yes, I know it isn't true." Her favourite one is the 1973 version of Jane Eyre. It is the only one where she will come from wherever she is to watch it- sitting directly in front of the TV and following it closely (she seems most interested in Mr Rochester, Jane, and Mrs. Fairfax). The very first time she did this I remember her cocking her head to one side just as Jane was saying: "The eccentricity of the proceedings was piquant."

April 19, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Jane Eyre,Jane Eyre (BBC 2006),Productions — by bronteana @ 11:31 pm

Down, superstition! I mean… paranoia!

Well, I've thought a little about what this 'visionary John Eshton' we heard about in the BBC press release for their new Jane Eyre could possibly mean, and in the process I have alarmed myself. This will hopefully be an amusing rant to look back on later, when we have seen the production and can laugh at my unfounded fears and paranoia. Nevertheless, here's my case:

Now, there is indeed a Mr.Eshton in Jane Eyre. I wasn't sure what his first name was, when Bronteana reader Mysticgypsy asked me if there was indeed a John Eshton, so I looked in the concordance. Jane never tells us Mr. Eshton's name. So, they gave him one; no problem there. But, there is a problem. This is how Jane describes Mr. Eshton:

Mr. Eshton, the magistrate of the district, is gentleman-like: his hair is quite white, his eyebrows and whiskers still dark, which gives him something of the appearance of a "pere noble de theatre."

Mr. Eshton will be played by Aidan McArdle, who is only one year younger than Toby Stephens, who is playing Mr Rochester. Adding characters is nothing new, but it is very strange that this John Eshton would get such high billing- over Bertha, Adele and St.John. I know that Sam Hoare has been listed as being in the production vaguely, we have no idea who he is playing; it seems likely he could be St.John Rivers but there's no confirmation on this. This is the scary bit for me… St.John could be described as visionary in a sense. Have they done away with him? Have they replaced him? I shudder to think. It has been done before, but generally it ends up impoverishing the whole production. The 1857 Jane Eyre had one of the guests flirt with Jane, but… no, no. I hope this is all just an 'idle terror.'

Unless they mean 'visionary' in the sense Mr Rochester once used it ('visionary woe'), then that would be about right- since 'John Eshton' doesn't exist!

March 30, 2006

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Librivox Villette

LibriVox– "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain." The site publishes audio books in the public domain, recorded by volunteers. Thanks to Heather, a co-ordinator for writing in to tell us about Villette, the first collaborative LibriVox Bronte work. There are no finished Bronte works yet although Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are being recited by two people attempting solo recordings. Most pressingly, under 20% of the chapters are claimed as of yet and they still need volunteers to recite chapters.

Aw, no Vanity Fair? … Well, I do think that book just might kill anyone attempting a solo recitation.

A friend of mine has a similar project on hand. Very slow productions of Shakespeare, which each part recorded separately online and then pasted together. It is very very slow work. And, I myself have a project which, from the start, was doomed to never actually be done- to put together a similar performance of Jane Eyre: The Musical. The trouble (…one of the troubles) is that all of my friends willing to entertain the idea are young ladies, so our Rochester is a soprano and I'm playing St.John Rivers (I am likewise a soprano, but this isn't quite so bad in St.John's case. No, really, some of his demo songs are very high! It's creepy…). It doesn't matter that I have dark hair and dark eyes, but I do burst out laughing at inappropriate times. Very out of charater.It will never, ever, ever be recorded (although I do have one clip of our (Miss) Rochester singing 'As Good As You').

March 29, 2006

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Filed under: Agnes Grey,Anecdotes,Anne Bronte,Jane Eyre,villette — by bronteana @ 11:52 pm

Anne-ecdotes

This is yet another personal testamony of a Brontephile in the land that forgot the Brontes. Today, in the very room where last week I had heard a tirade against all three sisters, someone began to talk to me about them, knowing of this blog. I was delighted, and surprised when he assumed that of the three Anne was my favourite. She is not, in fact, but it made me feel strangely happy nevertheless.

And, I did finally break down and order a copy of Agnes Grey. It should be arriving next week.

Some related Bronte news from the homefront- I did convince two people to read Jane Eyre this week. This is astonishing progress, believe me. Although I think the first person will not be pleased with the book… After rejoicing, I remembered that this particular person loathes and despises anything even remotely religious. I brought in a Bible once, to prepare for a medieval lit seminar I had to give, and she hissed at it. So… I'm not sure what she'll make of Jane Eyre! Alas. And the second is the fellow mentioned above who hasn't read the book, "but I saw the movie and that was enough." The minx. But anyway, he was only kidding. He also said he wanted to give "Violet… Violette… that V one, you know," a try. Oh bliss- I don't think many of you will comprehend this, but I had to get a copy of Villette from a friend in Iowa…

Lastly, blame me who will, I was alone in an auditorium room for several hours today so I worked on a short story (based on JE), talked out loud to Charlotte while I did so, then sang Amarilli, Mia Bella. No one else will ever know!

March 22, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:41 pm

"You have broken my heart today"

This post turned into something of a rant. I hope it is not entirely irrelevant.

This is what I said to someone I was having a very pleasant chat with today. I only met him recently, but he is the younger brother of one of my high school chums. He was not aware of my literary leanings, nor my intention of becoming a Bronte scholar. This is probably why he felt free to let loose a lengthy tirade against Emily, Charlotte, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights (at least Anne remained safe from his bile, although she was implied by the phrase: "three sisters who all died because they wrote bad novels." At the start, I averted my stunned gaze while he went on, not noticing my distress. My friend, seated next to me was in a similar state of shock. She, like most people in this particular area of Canada, had never read the Brontes. But she at least knew of my passion for their works- of Jane Eyre in particular.

"Jane Eyre wrote terrible novels! …"

…I think I may have become slightly more distressed.

"What's her name? Em-"

"Charlotte! …Charlotte…"

So, finally he just stopped on his own, and after a brief silence my friend turned to me and said: "Are you going to rebuff him for saying that?" I smiled, turned to him and meekly informed him that I'm going to be a Bronte scholar. And that Jane Eyre is my favourite book of all time. It was his turn to be alarmed, and he then attempted to "soften the previous outrage" and to stoke and soothe me into placidity, to coin a phrase. I am not easily vexed, so I engaged him in a discussion of Wuthering Heights. It turns out that the Brontes are now taught at my high school, where previously they had not. But he said that WH was taught "as an example of bad literature," and that "the whole concept of writing a novel around an anti-hero is terrible." Can I believe that this is true? Well… unfortunately, I cannot say it is outside of the realm of possibility but I intend to look into this.

My highschool was remarkable, unconventional, and extraordinarily liberal. One semester I had modern dance class before maths, geography, visual art, and vocal music. I spent about 80% of class time in some art class. The English program was horrid. I hated English until I entered university. English education, until grade 13 (now abolished), consisted of reading very bad Canadian fiction (such as the tale of an overweight teenage girl from a rich family who, depressed, goes to an island where she accidentally poisions herself until she is thin- and now she is happy, thin, and rich! Oh, and has a boyfriend). Doing plot diagrams, (which baffled me. I still do not understand their purpose, nor how one is constructed), and filling in charts of symbolism. I remember almost nothing from 4 years of English in this system- and only learned English grammar in university Latin.

In addition, the librarian was known as 'the Book-Nazi' (pardon the trivializing term- it is derived from the 'soup-Nazi' from Seinfeld). Upon entering the library all of your belongings were confiscated and placed in a detention area. The fiction section was forbidden, and the stairs leading to it were blocked with a chain. The librarian would select works of fiction each semester- they never seemed to change- and placed them on a table for us. You could be expelled from the library for sleeping, doing homework, or reading anything besides a book from the library itself. I had a friend who, early in the regime of this particular librarian, confronted her and said: "I refuse to obey these rules until you give me a reasonable explaination!" I thought: Why is she doing this to me? I will never read again! But somehow I escaped punishment.

And so, you see, I really can believe that WH would be used as 'an example of bad literature' at my dear old school! Do not be alarmed, grade 13 was completely different. It was run by a poet who demanded the best from us, and got it or else (there was at least one outburst of irrational rage per semester but we learned to expect them). And we learned to write proper essays, we wrote poetry and short stories, and begin to discuss books in a sane maner.

I really did love this school, honestly! I just don't comprehend why the English program was so ridiculous. I hear that my poet-teacher is now in charge of English there, and that the situation is much improved (and the Book-Nazi's chain has been sundered, and fiction flows freely once more). The school board also bears some responsibility. I uncovered a plot to annihilate the library system. I took out a book on Yeats' essays (I was an odd young woman) and the librarian unthinkingly said: "Oh, this book hasn't been taken out in a few years. This book should have been destroyed…" In their wisdom, the school board believed that the internet would make libraries redundant so they had an official policy of burning books not signed out for a certain period of time. They were not allowed to give them away, or to sell them. She offered to let me 'find' the book. I took out a shelf-full of books to save them. This policy was confirmed by other teachers. I only hope this too has changed!

March 17, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Fan Art,Fun,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 5:47 pm

Spreading the Word…


I finally recieved material from the Master's program in English. They are offering me a graduate assistantship. It seems like a good time, therefore, to discuss interior design. Professors at my university are very creative in how they choose to decorate the doors of their offices. I remember that in first year I stumbled upon the door of the writer in residence- now one of Canada's foremost authors. There was a feather taped to the door beside a cartoon of goats standing on a stove with the caption "Home on the Range". Below this was an old teacher evaluation from the 1960s. Scrawlled across it in an uncertain hand were the words: "That lecturer dude was rad." Below the scrawl, in elegant writing was: "____ ____ rocks Romanticism." Another professor- my mentor- has a magazine cover with a photo of an actress of the same name- I don't think she knows anything about Homer, though. And there's also an insultingly witty ancient Greek epigram bashing Challimachus. The Classics department is rife with puns. A poster of the she-wolf of Rome suckling Romulus and Rhemus has the caption: "Got Classics?" Another has a list of useful conversational Latin such as "If catapults are outlawed only outlaws will have catapults."

I have already stored a few items for the day when I too will have an office, and a door of my own. I don't know if I will have a door… I will certainly have a wall, and perhaps a chair and a desk… maybe a few walls. At least three. This poster, courtesy of the Association of the Librarians of the Czech Republic will definately have a place of honour on my wall.

March 14, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Productions,The Brontes of Haworth (1970) — by bronteana @ 3:16 pm

The Brontes of Haworth… dull?


I am not sure how the topic turned to the course on the Brontes the university offered last year. Someone who was a roomate of one of my classmates told me how she felt as though she had taken the course herself. "Every night my roomate would be lying on the floor reading one of them, and laughing, and telling me 'someone just did this, and now this is happening!" She went on, and I listened, trying to discern which novel she was talking about. My best guess is that she was mocking Wuthering Heights, but I only came to this conclusion hours later, when I had returned home! It was the: "And now she's dying for love- because that's what women do in Victorian novels!" that led me to this conclusion. I know, it isn't very convincing, is it?

This roomate also forced her to watch The Brontes of Haworth. She was under the impression that we were forced to watch it. At first, I didn't think we were talking about the same course. Our professor had the miniseries available if we cared to view it. In any case, they both suffered through it and found it "soooooooooooooo boring!" and "soooooooo English!" Boring? …No. I cannot see it. English? Well, what else?! Although, the example of this 'English'ness is that there are scenes where people are not doing anything.

March 9, 2006

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Filed under: Anecdotes,Bronteana,Random Acts of Bronte,Shirley,Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 1:37 am

A Very Random Act of Brontë

I am half-way through my week of trails. There's still the in-class essay and the conference to prepare for. This afternoon I met with several colleagues also presenting at the Classics conference. They were drafting a letter accepting invitations to the conference's luncheon. The three of us are in some way students of English and Classics. We amused ourselves with writing the most grandeloquent prose humanly possible, describing our professors as "most sapient", and beginning with terms such as "Lord Admiral Nelson (Ph.D)," and "*professor's name here*, Duchess of Lambton Tower," and ending with something like "your most obliguing and obedient servants." I think 'conference' was consistently replaced with 'confabulation.' When it came to how I would be mentioned in this letter, the first option proposed was to make me an esquire. But then I explained how ladies can't be esquires…

"Unless you are Shirley, from the novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë- She is the only one allowed to break this rule!"

And a hush falls, since no one knows what I'm talking about. But it's a start! I just have to keep mentioning it and eventually someone will ask me to explain. I do not remember how they resolved my title. It was troublesome:

"You're not married to a baronet, are you?"

"…Not to my knowledge."

Click here if you do not remember Random Acts of Brontë.

March 6, 2006

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"Where did you see Latmos?…"

Why, here of course. Thanks to Thisbeciel, we have some clips to show you from the BBC's 1973 Jane Eyre, starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston, which is due for DVD release this June. It is much loved for its fidelity to the book as well as for the calibre of the cast.

"I was tormented between my idea and my handiwork. Each time I would imagine something- something I was quite powerless to realise…"

The Interrupted Wedding


As you see, there are other Jane Eyre clips on this site, including the 'Sirens' performance from Jane Eyre: The Musical presented at the Tony awards, for which the show was nominated. Also there is a clip from the Hindi film Sangdil, which I will have much to say about at a later date.

Also, I would like to say that the Brontëana resource site also has a bunch of new etexts, mostly juvenilia but there are also some pieces by Branwell, and Patrick Brontë

I may have to be scarce this week. As I told one of my professors today, my workload for the week will probably reduce me to a puddle of goo by Sunday. At least I have that novel edited and annotated… and a commentary written… and… suggested revisions made… I just have to write the backcover copy, then write a paper on writer contracts, another paper on the Romance of the Rose, prepare for an in-class essay on Beckett, and then prepare for my first real conference! I will be presenting a paper on Emperor Claudius- which is fitting because last night I stepped on a thorn and now I have a nice Claudian limp. Here's hoping that those attending the conference think that I'm trying to be amusing.

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